CHILD WELFARE MANUAL

Section 4, Chapter 6 (Working with Parents), Subsection 1 – Initial Work with Parents

Effective Date:  1-31-2019

 

The Alternative Care Family Practitioner will be assigned immediately, according to local procedures.

Within 24 hours of the child being taken into protective custody, the intake worker and the Children’s Service Worker will meet with the parents. Both workers should visit the parent to ensure a smooth transition between workers. All parents should be given the opportunity to be involved in the assessment process. It is important to assess each parent to obtain a thorough understanding of the family functioning. The worker shall provide and explain to the parents the Handbook for Parents of Children in Alternative Care, CS-304, during this meeting and is intended to assist staff in providing this information to parents.  Additionally, the CS-132 (Know Your Rights Brochure) shall be provided at this time.

The purpose of this meeting is to provide the parents/caretakers with as much information as possible about what will be happening with their child and to engage them in the decision-making process. Continuous parental involvement, including all parents, throughout the child’s placement is significant in early and successful reunification. It is important to remember the majority of families do not voluntarily seek assistance from the Division. The family may view the Children’s Service Worker as an unwelcome intrusion into their life. The family’s perception may manifest itself in a wide range of behaviors, i.e., defensiveness, hostility, resistance, and ambivalence. It is imperative the worker examine the underlying cause of the behavior and understand the family’s reactions may be normal in view of the circumstances. The worker should try to put themselves in the family’s position and think about how they might react in similar circumstances.

The following items provide some guidance on topics to discuss with parents:

  • The Children’s Service Worker explains his/her role as helper to the family. The worker will assist the family to identify and resolve those issues which lead to the out-of-home placement of their child
  • Use the Signs of Safety approach to begin development of an assessment map of the family and their situation
  • Begin assessing the family situation using tools that are relevant to the circumstances
  • Engage the parent to allow them to express their view of the situation
  • Ask how the family has managed up to the time of intervention including what worked and what did not work
  • The parent and family’s perception of their cultural identity
  • Explore with the parent the whereabouts of the other parents and relatives that may be able to assist the family and become part of the safety network
  • How trauma may influence the parent and family

When engaging with parents the focus should be on what must change before the child can safely return home. Ask what in-home safety interventions may be put in place to assure that the child is safe. Initial discussions about safety networkers should be held.

This introductory contact between the Children’s Service Worker and family is the foundation for establishing a team with common purpose and goals. As with any other team member, the parent must feel that they are a part of the solution rather than simply complying with the mandates of others.

The family Children’s Service Worker also explains that the family (all parents/child(ren)) will be members of a Family Support Team (FST). He/she explains that the purpose of the team is to assist the family to determine their strengths and needs and what type of plan is necessary for the child to return home. He/she explains team membership and individual roles and responsibilities with the team.